Prep work for my machine dungeon - Dungeon 23


I’m late to the Dungeon23 party but I really want to do it. Sometimes life gets into the way and this was one of those cases. Too much happened the last two months that I simply couldn’t find the will to sit down and write, but I think I’m ready to try now.

My dungeon will be a kind of science fantasy dungeon with the thumb firmly pressed on the fantasy. Been reading about Gygaxian naturalism and how to make dungeons feel like living spaces and that had a large impact on me because up until now I always thought about dungeons in terms of rule of cool. If something felt cool, it deserved to be in the dungeon. Then again, it has been decades since I last designed a dungeon—I’m coming back to the hobby after a very long hiatus—and I’m out of practice.

I want to design a dungeon with twelve levels that feels like it is a machine. No in the mechanical components feel, but in the workflow and equipment inside it. For me it is not enough that I can answer “where foods come from?”, I want the dungeon to turn that into eleven and actually be built around workflows to answer that question in a larger scale. The dungeon will not be a ruin, it is a well designed space with an objective:

  • To drive captives and game downwards.
  • To redirect water, sunlight and other resources downwards.
  • To provide a buffer that isolates/protects the deeper levels from the surface.

Divided into four blocks of three levels, the bottom block will be a kingdom that uses the labour from upper levels to derive their resources. The upper levels might not be aware of this. Everything in the dungeon will be in service of generating resources for this bottom kingdom.

In this I’m inspired by the by Josiah Bancroft. Each level is working on multiple fronts and probably unaware why they’re doing it.

Levels 1 to 3

Managed on the upper two level by brutes, the denizens of this level will do raids on surface dwellers and capture people and resources to be passed downwards in exchange of some reward (I’m still working on it, I’m thinking about some kind of reputation system where their most productive clans could travel downwards).

Some clever critters would inhabit the bottom two levels (thus sharing the second level with brutes) and would focus their attention on the diversion of two rivers and sunlight downwards. They’d probably use some of the captives as labourers.

Levels 4 to 6

Their orchards, mines, and farmlands. Part of the redirect sunlight will power fungi and algae farms. A mine will be a source of some rich and strange resources. There will be strange farms as well.

The produce of the farms and mine will be sent downwards.

Levels 7 to 9

Assembly lines. The resources sent downwards are worked on workshops and factories. Everything is considered a resource to be broken down and reassembled.

Levels 10 to 12

Strange eldritch kingdom.

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